Wake-up Workshop: Sweet Smoke of Rhetoric

Good Morning, welcome to the 3rd Wake-up Workshop as part of the 2013 Blackfriars Conference. Run by OCS’s Academic Resources Manager Cass Morris on Friday October 25th from 8:00 to 8:45 AM. This mornings workshop was on the topic of, as you have guessed, Rhetoric.

Morris asked the the group the first question she always asks her students: “what do you think of when you hear the term rhetoric?” Some of the attendees answered with “hard, tedious, and boring”. Morris wants to shift that thinking into one of a tool people can use, not battle against. Rhetoric makes you a better reader, writer, and listener; making it an invaluable tool. Morris proceeded to hand out a paper to the group and asked them to each read one thing and pick out the rhetoric.

The first thing Morris asked is, “Why do we use repetition in life?” Some answers were, to emphasize something, make a point, to help stupid people. After having a attendee read a quote from Shakespeare. the group began to dissect the things they heard and what that could mean about the character. Morris talked about characters with many “b” sounds and “s” sounds in their speeches and how that audience could interpret things about that character. She then cited Duke Orsino from “Twelfth Night,” the many “o” sounds he uses and how it speaks to his character. Having another attendee read another quote, with repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of the sentence, this is known as anaphora.

Moving from repetition to omission, Morris began by handing out another quote “You this way, we that way.” Having two attendees then read a quote from “Othello” to show how two characters can omit together. One attendee then added that the character Iago was not only omitting but also repetition. Morris pointed out that Iago makes points in his speeches by seeming to pass of the point,known as paralepsis.

The next section Morris presented was addition; having a attendee read a bit from “Macbeth” regarding Duncan’s horses. This quote ultimately is saying the horses ran away, they were beautiful, best of the horses in Scotland, and belonged to Duncan. (In a very long way.)  The quote to follow was from Bottom talking about how they would handle the ladies of the court during their performance, as he corrects himself by addition, known as epanorthosis.

Direction is the rhetorical area to follow, having an attendee read a quote that had words in reverse order. The very next quote, “O for a muse of fire…” that shows a reverse build. To make the last thought the biggest thought, though Morris asked what happens when you reverse the reverse, starting big a descending as you proceed. Antithesis is shown in the next quote from the Witches in “Macbeth.”

Morris, for time sake, moved to Substitution; having the quote by Charles to Joan read by an attendee. Personification substitution from a quote by Juliet shows how she is imaginative (as noted by an attendee). “Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man.” showing the pun to be a form of substitution.  Showing then how substituting verbs can show high class or intelligence when used correctly or low class when used incorrectly, Cleopatra vs Dogberry.

Leaving the group with some recommended texts, Putnam, Scott Kaiser, Richard Lanham, and silva rhetorica, Morris ended the 3rd Wake-up Workshop.

Blackfriars Conference 2013–Lunch and Learn Session: The World Shakespeare Project

Good afternoon! Sarah Martin here in the Blackfriars Playhouse to liveblog the second Lunch and Learn Session of the Conference. Today’s session about The World Shakespeare Project features presenters Sheila Cavanaugh from Emory University and Kevin Quarmby from Oxford College, Emory University. The title of today’s session is “It is a Novelty to the World”: The World Shakespeare Project in a Global Context.

The World Shakespeare Project links Oxford, Georgia and Atlanta, Georgia so that students at both of Emory University’s campuses can can hold digital classes and group projects via Skype. Cavanaugh and Quarmby give examples of students sharing sonnets on separate campuses  and joint classes as far apart as London and Argentina.

Cavanaugh lends her iPad to Emory professor Paul Peterson who explains how the internet connection between the different locations works. He shows students the maps of the different internet cables that are beneath the world’s oceans and how they literally connect the classrooms across the world.

Cavanaugh and Quarmby also reach out to the world’s classrooms outside of the confines of Shakespeare. Cavanaugh explains that they connected with a classroom in Casablanca who did not have an anglo-centric curriculum and were able to adapt their English literature emphasis to French. Quarmby provides an anecdote of the Morrocan students’ views of fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as dangerous versus our Western views of fairies as magical and harmless and how this sparked other conversations between the students and provided a forum for cultural exchange.

Cavanaugh explains that non-native English speakers “are incredibly attentive to meaning” and Quarmby says that their Argentinean students “had an appreciation for the beauty of language”.  The international students’ attention to the nuances of the language helped American students find moments and meaning in the text that they might have missed out on otherwise.

The project has gone to India, Morrocco, and countries in South America. Cavanaugh explains that students in Argentina and Brazil are only one hour away from her American students in terms of the time difference so they can hold joint classes during traditional school hours. Cavanaugh’s travels to India have been both rewarding and potentially perilous. She said that each time she has traveled to India, she has been given twelve armed guards. Cavanaugh and Quarmby are quick to explain that they do not intend to patronize third world and war torn regions, but rather to highlight the similarities between the seemingly disparate cultures of the United States and nations thousands of miles away.

Cavanaugh and Quarmby use popular video chat program Skype to facilitate their virtual classes. Quarmby says that one university that they visited in Casablanca received government funding as a result of their project and now boasts video conferencing suites and a theatre with complete internet access.

The World Shakespeare Project  has  been able to conduct virtual sessions with Internet Shakespeare Editions and the Folger Library in Washington, DC.

The project’s classes are three and a half hours every day to provide students with a full semester’s worth of classes in three and a half weeks and often include exciting moments of cultural exchange. Stephen Unwin of the Rose Theatre  Kingston in London  directed Emory students from his theatre in the UK.  During one class meeting between Macbeth director Tom Magill in Belfast, students in Argentina, and students in Atlanta a unique moment of cultural exchange that might have been impossible previously. When the discussion turned to the common comparison of Lady Macbeth to popular political figures only two weeks after the death of Margaret Thatcher, students in Northern Ireland and Argentina were able to describe the impact of such a comparison from each of their perspectives to American students.

Salman Rushdie visited Emory in a particularly special moment for the Project and even performed Iago for that day’s class.

Cavanaugh concludes by stating that the ultimate goal of the Project is to “use Shakespeare as conduit” to bring together local traditions with the classic texts. For more information about this fOCSinating initiative, visit http://www.worldshakespeareproject.org.

Blackfriars Conference 2013 — Keynote with Ann Thompson

Good morning!  Whitney Egbert here again to live blog our third keynote speech of the week with Ann Thompson from King’s College London.  The title of her presentation is ‘Now this is the place where you can bring in Cleopatra’s horse’: Editing Shakespeare for the Stage.

Dr. Ralph Cohen introduces Ann Thompson as an English Professor at King’s College London, head of the London Center of Shakespeare, and the general editor for the Arden series of Shakepeare’s plays, amongst many other amazing accomplishments.  May I be her when I grow up?

Thompson begins by reminding us all that today is Crispin’s day – a great reminder and a wonderfully timed moment.

Thompson is going to be talking today about her experience as the general editor for the Arden series – a role where she oversees the editors of specific plays.

Thompson’s first example is from the Royal Shakespeare Company’s All’s Well That End’s Well from last month where the first stage direction was the entrance of several characters in black – but how long do they stay in black?  This provides an opportunity for the editor to not intervene by change the stage direction but by noting the options.  Thompson’s second example is at the end of Othello where Emilia asks to be laid by her mistress, a stage direction often ignored in production so that the end picture is two on the bed rather than three.

But where, Thompson asks, do the stage directions come from?  Many editors insist they can make changes to those that are already there because they were added by other previous editors.  Thompson asserts, however, that rather than continuing to make arbitrary choices, editors should be providing performers and readers with the options, instead of making the choice for them.

Editors, Thompson says, do need to be decisive about entrances and exits, especially about when it comes to those who are present silently.  She gives us several examples including Ophelia in Hamlet and a moment in Troilus and Cressida.

Thompson goes on to give much credit to George Walton Williams IV (our honored guest), who has participated in editing eight of Arden’s series and is continuing to contribute to three more in the works.  What does this man not do??!!  Thompson goes on to site articles written by Williams about entrances and exits where he encourages editors to not feel like they are infringing on the director, as long as the notes are given below that describe the choice.

Thompson describes her work Romeo and Juliet, which comes out soon from the Arden series, and for which she served as a contributing editor and expresses the thought that someone, Thompson suggests Arden, should keep the notes that are exchanged between a group of editors as they may prove interesting for future researchers.  Thompson then remarks again how a General Editor walks a fine line between editor for the series and moving into the dangerous world of being seen as a teacher who gives too many notes.

The antidotes about Williams which Thompson is using to give examples of moments of interest as a General Editor are rather entertaining – there is a note somewhere in reference to a Benvolio line about education.  Thompson brings it back to staging, specifically about how many people might be needed in certain scenes, whether or not Romeo and Juliet dance during the party – “SAINTS DO NOT MOVE” she quotes from his notes, and some furniture moments in other scenes.

Thompson keeps coming back to the idea of an editor’s conflict in not directing too much via their edits – their goal is to create a text as true to the original as possible but they have a version of the show running through their mind as they edit so they often fear the influence of that version on their product.

Now to Cleopatra’s horse – no, there is no entrance of a horse in the early stage.  But Thompson’s title relates to a note an editor wanted to insert in the early part of the Queen Mab scene where Romeo is struggling under the weight of love, a connection being made to a moment in Antony and Cleopatra where love is given weight, as heavy as Cleopatra’s horse or something like that.  Thompson takes a moment to discuss how many moments, especially about sex, might, for many editors, feel as inappropriate as bringing a horse on to the stage in the moment in Antony and Cleopatra.  Using certain words or certain sexual happenings in play can create a land mine for editors, readers, and teachers.  Apparently Williams suggested to the editor that the horse note, and it’s relation to women on top, might be better suited for the moment when Queen Mab lays women on thier back teaches them how to bear.

Thompson ends her presentation by talking about collaborative editing, the friendships created over the 5-10 years it might take to create new edition for the Arden series.  And yes, Thompson confirms, that they are already talking about the Arden 4th series.

Blackfriars Conference 2013–Paper Session #6

Happy Friday, everyone! Sarah Martin back here in the beautiful Blackfriars Playhouse to liveblog Paper Sesion #6 of the conference. This session’s moderator is Betsy Craig of Grove City College and features papers from Katherine Cleland, Brian Chalk, Jessica Schiermeister, Antonia Forster, Danielle Rosvally, Deb Struesand, and Travis Curtright.

Katherine Cleland, Virginia Tech

“This woman’s of my counsel”: Clandestine Marriage and the Politics of Female alliance in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi

Cleland begins her presentation with a summary of the fOCSination that scholars have with Cariola’s relationship with the Duchess in The Duchess of Malfi. Cleland notes that scholarship has neglected the complex relationship between the two women. She examines their relationship through a political lens. As witnesses were not required to legitimize early modern marriages, many clandestine marriages were difficult to prove and “morally suspect”. Cleland points to the fact that the clergy were outspoken opponents of such secret marriages as evidence of the risk of clandestine marriage. Cleland states that the Duchess’s marriage  is inevitably political and that the Duchess uses Cariola’s presence at the marriage to legitimize her otherwise incredibly risky union. Cleland argues that the Duchess’s use of the word “counsel” when she says, “this woman’s of my counsel” in reference to Cariola elevates the maidservant to the position of legal counsel. Cleland references the OCS Touring Troupe’s recent production of the play in which the stage configuration of the Duchess, Antonio, and Cariola made Cariola look like the officiator at the wedding, underscoring Cariola’s role in legitimizing the marriage. Cleland notes that Cariola is reluctant to be complicit in the clandestine marriage, but has no choice because of her low social status. Cleland argues that the relationship between the Duchess and Cariola is “exploitative” as the Duchess’s actions condemn Cariola to death. The legal power of the female alliance is solidified When the Duchess and Antonio’s son is named the next Duke at the end of the play.

Brian Chalk, Manhattan College

Fletcher’s Future: Dividing Posterity in Henry VIII

Chalk argues that Henry VIII demonstrates that posterity is  the product of collaborative action–whether that posterity is the issue of the title character, or the text itself. Henry VIII is included in the 1623 First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays, but scholars agree that the play was a collaborative work between Shakespeare and John Fletcher. Chalk notes that Henry destroys the lives of others because of his lack of posterity in personage of a son. The end of the play, which features a prophecy about a phoenix, links Elizabeth with James I. Chalk argues that “in death, Elizabeth produces the male heir she could not in real life”. Henry’s posterity is not only his biological children, but an outsider–Elizabeth’s cousin. Chalk argues that the Tudor name culminates in the Stuart dynasty, noting that Henry’s posterity is the product of two names, just as the play is itself. Fletcher, Chalk claims, cared about the afterlife of his works and understood that the collaborative nature of posterity was essential to his success.

Jessica Schiermeister, Mary Baldwin College

“Youth in Petticoats”: The Early Modern Boy Actor, the All-Male Stage, and Female Performance

Scheirmeister argues that the long-held assumption that women were not allowed on the early modern English stage is incorrect. She notes that women were involved in guilds and that guild-members took part in the staging of small plays. Women performed in Mountebank productions as musicians, acrobats, and even actresses. Scheirmeister gives an example of such an actress, “Vittoria”, who was so popular, she had to have bodyguards accompany her home. Foreign troupes that had actresses also performed in England. Scheirmeister argues Queen Anna of Denmark acted in a mask and Queen Henrietta Maria gave instruction for such masks. Moll Frith could perform onstage because she dressed as a man, Scheirmeister argues. She notes that in Henslowe’s Diary, women are listed as pawnbrokers–very much a part of the commercial theatre world. Scheirmeiser argues that women had a commercial interest in theatre itself. Scheirmeister argues that the reason women were not employed as actresses because of the apprentice system in early modern England. Companies hired theatre apprentices, boys, to play the female roles in their plays. Scheirmeister argues that the lack of women on the early modern English stage was a “product of convenience, rather than ideology.”

Antonia Forster, University of Akron

Another History Play

Actors: Stephanie Holladay Earl, Patrick Earl, and Fernando Lamberty

Forster asks OCS Touring Troupe actor Stephanie Holladay Earl to perform a section of a history play. She first delivers a monologue alone and then is joined by actors Patrick Earl and Fernando Lamberty who inform her that the queen of the play is dead. The scene takes place in the middle of a battle. Forster notes that, in 1795, forged letters between Shakespeare and Elizabeth I and a copy of King Lear and another unnamed play were discovered and circulated. Samuel Ireland who discovered the forged letters and the play, known as Vortigern and Rowena, claimed that it is Shakespeare’s until his son, William Henry Ireland, admitted the forgery. The scandal surrounding the play’s discovery led to a performance in London. Audiences did not respond positively to the play and it had to stop mid-performance. Forster notes that London newspapers lambasted the play and detailed the audience’s disdain for the play. Forster argues that Vortigern and Rowena was dismissed in performance because of the scandal of its forged origins.

Danielle Rosvally, Tufts University Department of Dance and Drama

“Off With His Head!”…so much for Hewlett/Brown; The African Grove Theatre Presents Richard III

Rosvally gives a history of the first African American theatre company who performed for an African American audience: The African Grove Theatre. Their 1820 production of Richard III led to their arrest in New York City. Authorities even made the company members swear that they would never again perform Shakespeare. Rosvally gives examples of what The African Grove Theatre’s performance space may have looked like. She notes that Richard III was uniquely suited to their small performance space because the play does not require many set pieces. Rosvally provides brief biographies of the principle actors in the company and also describes the appearance of their costumes. She describes the acting style of the company and references reviews that claim the acting was “intense and intimate”.  The performance had one actress act each of the female parts in the play. Rosvally argues that the director, William Brown,  significantly cut the text to allow such doubling. She claims that the text would have been around 13,500 words and would have taken about 90 minutes to perform and would not need an intermission. Rosvally concludes by asking theatre historians to learn more about William Brown’s company and their significance in the American theatre history narrative.

Deb Streusand, University of Texas at Austin

“Pardon, gentles all”: Performing the Meta-theatrical.

Actors: OCS Touring Troupe members Patrick Midgley and Patrick Earl

Streusand discusses how metatheatricality operates in performance. She argues that the most difficult moment of metatheatricality for an actor is a textually-mandated direct reference. Streusand states that using humor can help an actor overcome this difficulty. She gives an example from the 2011 Blackfriars Conference. OCS actor Patrick Midgley performed a section of a speech from Henry  V while Streusand played a Western theme on a melodica. She argues that using the audience’s modern shared film reference helps the audience envision the horses that Midgley spoke about. The humor, she argues, “conveyed the significance of the reference”. Streusand also talks about the “metaphor of performance”. Streusand also references  the 2012 OCS production of Julius Caesar’s preshow. OCS actors Patrick Earl and Patrick Midgley took to the stage and sang “Clap Your Hands” and invited the audience to participate. Streusand argues that the actors “primed the audience”to become involved in the performance. She states that the textually-mandated direct reference alienates the audience more than the performance metaphor, but that both use humor to engage the audience in the moment of metatheatricality. Both methods use extratextual elements in order create that humor which should, “enhance the audience’s understanding of that reference”.  Streusand argues that such humor should be used in different ways by different companies and admits that the Blackfriars (with its thrust-staging and universal lighting) may have an advantage in such practice.

Travis Curtright, Ave Maria University

Kate’s Obedience Speech as an Exercise in Declamation

Curtright argues that the obedience speech at the end of The Taming of the Shrew represents a schoolboy’s successful understanding of the use of rhetoric in the early modern humanist education system rather than the defeat or “taming” of Kate. He argues that Shakespeare was familiar with the grammar school exercise of declamation and made references to it in several of his plays. Curtright notes that early modern grammar schools were dedicated to the “marriage of Classical rhetoric to Pauline Christianity”, and that Kate ironizes the curriculum of the grammar school, Richard Brinsley’s recommendations for declamations, and the overall obedience theme. Curtwright argues that Kate “uses rhetoric’s art to alter or expand the terms of Petruchio’s argumentum” and that, in doing so, she was able “re-describe and appropriate the moral content Brinsley’s method takes for granted.”  Hence, “actors who play Hortensio, Lucentio, and Petruchio must choose how to respond to these lines, from cheering Kate on to playing some recognition of irony.”

Colloquy Session VI: Methods II: Pedagogy and Staging: 2013 Blackfriars Conference (10/24/13)

Good afternoon everyone –

This is Molly Zeigler, back again, to live-blog Colloquy Session VI: Methods II: Pedagogy and Staging for the 2013 Blackfriars Conference.  This colloquy session is being held at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Salon A on Thursday 10/24/13 at 3:30 on a sunny, if chilly, afternoon.

This is my first time inside the Stonewall Jackson Hotel; it’s a lovely venue.  The Stonewall Jackson Hotel and the Blackfriars Theatre, of course, have something of a close relationship, coming up together as financial successes here in historic Staunton.

Colloquy Session VI:

Chair and Presenter: Rhonda Knight 

Presenters: Christopher Fettes; Bryan Herek; Alan Hickerson; Garry Walton; Jane Wells  (Please note that, unfortunately, Meg Powers Livingston was unable to attend today’s colloquy.)

The session began with introductions and statements regarding panel members’ work and interests:

Bryan Herek is aligned with Chowan University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  His experience and interest is in working with Shakespearean works and materials with minority students.  It has been his experience that working with minority students requires a wide range of approaches and pushes the search for innovation forward.

Alan Hickerson is a school teacher. For 20 years he taught in Charlottesville and now he is out of Athens, Georgia (where he has switched from public education to private).  He has worked with entities in England including the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (both in Stratford-upon-Avon).  In Mr. Hickerson’s class the students are responsible for shaping much of the performance based portion of the curriculum.  His students work with plays and sonnets in performance and presentation.

Rhonda Knight is out of Coker College in Harstville, South Carolina.  She is interested in exploring how to incorporate modern students familiarity and love of the Harry Potter texts with their study and comprehension of Early Modern works, namely Doctor Faustus.  Many students today are so enamored of the Harry Potter stories – quoting it incessantly, referring back to it constantly – that they view other literature through the lens of the love they have for these modern works.  The Harry Potter works may be seen as representative of any current popular trends in literature that may shape today’s students’ views of Early Modern texts.

Jane Wells is aligned with Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio.  She is exploring the tension between modern staging practices, Early Modern practices and conventions, and modern expectations of theatre and performance.  There is a tension between the desire to be original while adhering to perceived expectations of ‘Early Modern’ stagecraft.  Ms. Wells is interested in several questions: What does it mean to view these texts as having multiple meanings and what meaning do we – as readers and audience members and theatre practitioners – impose upon the text?  Does meaning get ‘closed off’ as choices are made – have to be made – in the course of performance?

Christopher Fettes is a graduate student at the University of Central Arkansas (he comes from a strong English literature background).  As a busy dramaturgical intern with the theatre on campus at the University of Central Arkansas, Mr. Fettes was surprised to find that he was expected to perform in a variety of fashions outside of his literary/English-based ‘comfort zone.’  He has been involved with the theatre at the University of Central Arkansas writing program notes, working on lobby displays, and other activities.  He is interested in how the dramaturg is viewed and how the dramaturg’s role is expressed.

Garry Walton is with Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Meredith College is a women’s liberal arts school.  He teaches Shakespeare every semester and it is ‘never boring.’  Part of his teaching is sharing information about productions he has seen with his students.  Sharing production information opens up the body of relate-able information for students (especially students who may not have ever seen a production of a Shakespearean work).

The floor was open to questions to welcome all into the colloquy (the following material is paraphrased – first person will be used when possible):

Please keep in mind that this colloquy (as dictated by the sometime discursive structure of colloquy panels) was fast and loose.  We had excellent conversations and the passion and fervor of today’s educator was evident. I have tried to capture some of that spirit (as best I can). 

Question for the panel from an audience member: What are your experiences teaching Shakespeare to and working with Shakespeare with minority students?

Herek: It is really true that minority students approach this material from a unique vantage.  Many students will immediately go to the well of ‘other.’  They will explore these texts through their own experiences and through the construct of the ‘other.’  I have explored other ways into the texts.  I strongly recommend getting the material on its feet and allowing students to physically engage.  The comedies are best suited for such physical exploration and engagement.

Audience member observation:  Working with a group of students that represents a broad cross-section of society makes for challenges just as it allows for a deeper exploration of possible double or alternative meanings an interpretations of the texts.

Question from the audience: How does space impact the teaching process and the ease of getting these works on their feet (and how does it impact interpretation)?

Knight:  I use both the classroom and theatre spaces with my students.  Using the theatre space allows for a ‘hands-on lab’ experience where different options can be explored.  I often assign a paper wherein students are expected to engage with a possible (and specific) staging issue or difficulty.

Question from the audience: What are some proactive methods for encouraging exploration and engagement?

Walton: Some success is seen with film.  Students often respond positively to working with and writing about film.  Film is a medium that students are comfortable with and it is an easy ‘launching pad’ for discussions of acting, acting choices, characterization, and performance.

Hickerson: I often have my students keep an acting and writing journal.  A journal allows students to keep a record of their process and discoveries while personalizing the experience for them.

Audience member observation: I work with ninth graders and I have found that play is a great way to get these students to a place where they feel comfortable to really explore the material.  Students who are comfortable often find meaning for themselves.

Wells: I love play. It is a great way into this material.  Consider when I learn a piece of Beethoven or Mozart – that work becomes a part of me.  I am then free to play with it (play has served to bring me closer to a piece initially, and it then continues to offer insight).  We are looking for that sort of familiarity and approach-ability.  Once we have that sense of connection, we can continue to easily play and engage with a piece.

Topic suggestion (suggested by audience and direction of conversation): Purpose of teaching these materials; and the language as obstacle.

Fettes:  As an English major I do not come to these materials from a performance perspective.  When I go to the theatre I do not have issues or difficulties with the language.  Dramaturgs engage with many different aspects of text and performance – not all of which are clearly demonstrated in a specific production.

Knight:  Teaching these materials engages students’ critical thinking skills.  Teaching this material can create strong critical thinkers and interested individuals.  Part of this process is to teach students how to be good audience members (as they are expected to be good students or ‘audience members’ in the classroom).  If we want good audiences, we need to explore what it means to in fact be a good audience member.

Question from the audience:  Thanks to the OCS, I teach my students rhetoric. I see it as a way for students to engage mentally and physically with the material.  Do you do much with rhetoric?

Knight: No, I do not do much with rhetoric.  However, I do much with physicality and movement.

Audience member (to Knight): Your work predates our obsession with rhetoric.  (Appreciative laughter.)

Herek:  I do use hip-hop as a way into examining constructed language.

Wells:  Slang can offer a method of approach allowing students to access a small way into the material.

In the interest of time, Rhonda Knight, here, used her ‘chair prerogative’ to re-direct the conversation to Alan Hickerson’s sonnet assignment:

Hickerson:  Students are expected to select one sonnet and memorize it.  It is worked on in depth and paraphrased and explored slowly so that students can see progress.  The sonnet is viewed as a small, complete play – a play that can be handled.  Students engage physically with the sonnet.  Students treat the sonnet as a performance piece and bring it alive.  There are true a-ha moments available within such work and engagement as students begin to understand and see the process from a broader vantage point.

Audience member observation: More a-ha moments are to be found by engaging with the text in small chunks and through a smaller, tighter focus.  Rhetoric can be approached easily and simply by first looking at single words.  Starting small and focused engages students’ critical thinking skills.

Rhonda Knight thanked everyone for their participation and we broke into small groups to touch base before dispersing. 

It was an intriguing discussion.  The educators present were all ‘alive’ with their passions and focus.  It was an interesting afternoon.

 

Colloquy Session IX: Construction of Identity/Self

Ashley Pierce here with the 9th session of colloquies for the 2013 Blackfriars Conference on Thursday October 24th from 3:30 to 4:45 PM on the topic of “Construction of Identity/Self.” The presenters for this session are Katherine Schaap Williams, Richard Waugaman, and James Rizzi and chaired by Whitney Egbert.

Tis Somewhat Hard When Kings Must Go by James Rizzi

James RIzzi’s paper involved the relationship between Gaveston and King Edward in Marlowe’s play “Edward II”. He cites moments in the play;, such as the opening scene with Gaveston and Edward as well as between Gaveston and the Bishop of Coventry.  Rizzi discovers that Edward is defining and discovering himself through Gaveston, even though there are other characters throughout the play that he should or could use in this manner.He further states that the reason why this phenomena is happening in such a manner is because it is a non-imposed relationship. He spoke about the moment in which the two men exchange portraits, which is later revealed that Edward in the end of the play still has this portrait and seems to hold it in high regard.

Performing Ill by Katherine Schaap Williams

This paper deals with actors who are to portray sickness on the stage. While looking at Jonson’s play “Volpone” for example, She says that for this character the original idea of “sickness” is fake; mainly a means for the character to obtain gold and riches. Later in the play, during the first trial scene, Volpone’s body is used to show his sickness in an attempt to prove the truth behind his lies. Williams suggests that the real crisis in the play is not how the body looks but how in the scene following the trial his fake disease has started to become a reality. Volpone ultimately toubles the lines in the epilogue in particular, between reality, fake, character, actor, and play.

A Psychoanalytical Perspective on the Character of Coriolanus: The ‘Hen’ is MIghtier than the Sword by Richard Waugaman (Coriolanus-Blackfriars 2013)

Waugaman talks about how there are three psychoanalytical moments within Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus.” Though for this paper he speaks about the idea of how Coriolanus’s mother makes mention of “if I were Coriolanus’s wife…”, thus dealing with the Oedipal complex. Citing moments in act five when Coriolanus is confronted with his family as he plots to destroy Rome, Waugaman shows how this gives us sight into Coriolanus’s psyche and self created fantasies.He further says that Coriolanus’ mother has programmed her son in such a way that she knows how to manipulate and control him through his mind.  Moving to talk about how we much pause and take time to ponder what has happened to Coriolanus’s father and how that shapes the character in regards to Coriolanus’ back story.

Plenary Session V – Blackfriars Conference 2013

Good Evening from the Blackfriars! I am Clare and will be your blogger for Paper Session V of the conference 2013.

Moderator: Michael Hirrel.

Ann Pleiss Morris: Patient Auditor to Gentle Reader: Transforming the Introduction from Playhouse to Printhouse

Annalisa Castaldo: “Your majesty came not like yourself”: Staging and Understanding the Glove Episode of Henry V

Andrew Carlson: Performance as Public Dramaturgy

Steve Urkowitz: Shakespeare Shaping Richard in Versions of Henry VI 2 &3, or “The Bard Licking the Boar”

Ann Jennalie Cook: Life in Shakespeare’s London: A  First-Hand Account

Pleiss Morris:

Previous to the invention of the printing press, plays were primarily known as plays, and not as books.  Therefore, the audience members did not move from “page to stage.”  When presses started printing plays, they also printed epistles describing how the reader should react to a play text, and how they should move from stage to page.  Some scholars believe that the prologue and epilogue was a means for the actors, playwright and audience to construct theater together.  Some actors felt that the publication cut at the artistry, and highly limited the plays. Playwrights and actors were also concerned about the difference between the play and the theatrical experience, and the ways in which the editors could change, cut or misprint the text.  Some epistles suggested that audience members think back on the text as they saw it performed.  Publishers could easily intend printed plays therefore, to solicit nostalgia and not for a first encounter.  Beaumont was particularly concerned that the reader recollect the atmosphere of the playhouse in the plays.  Beaumont wrote to Jonson to voice some of his concerns. Introductory epistles also lay out the “correct” reception of a play and teach readers how to read it “properly.” Fletcher does so by laying out the scene and wishes that it could act more as a prologue did. Playwrights concernedly sought to shape the experience of the readers and can help re-envision the movement we undergo from page to stage.

Castaldo:

Henry V’s use of the glove to trick Williams, is perhaps the most problematic instance in Henry V.  The joke often appears not to work, so Castaldo looked at why Shakespeare kept the scene in his script.  Directors often cut the scene because it is problematic.  Scholars often overlook the scene as well, especially in political readings of the play (which keep the first Williams encounter, but the not second).  Audiences see a discontinuity when a King in full armor plays a practical joke. The moment falls in the middle of a set of clearly solemn moments.  Henry also appears to set up for mockery and possible execution one of the soldiers who has just won the battle for him. The fact that the beginning of the scene is inundated with the repetition of the idea of a traitor and impending punishment, offsets the honesty of Williams. The way Henry offers a payment to Williams frames the treatment of other major themes in the play. The OCS touring troupe actors presented the scene first as lighthearted, and then as sinister. Even when presented humorously there is a threat, and even when sinister, there is some humor in the scene.  This scene may also remind audiences/readers of Jack Cade.  (Time and the OCS bear cut the paper short).  Shakespeare wrote his plays knowing how things will be resolved, which is another reason for the strangeness of this moment.

Carlson:

Disparagement in the reading of a text and what some audience members perceive in the text and the performance can be used as dramaturgy. The audience and actor can build a character together.  Over-clarifying and tagging particular characters and motives through Shakespearean study leads to the problem of trying to present the “correct interpretation.” Striving for “correctness” is dissatisfying for audiences and actors.  Stanslavski methods say actors should “do” not “think” and that actors should not over-think characters but react. Actors must “not think” in order to act and simply try to obtain something from another character, or affect a change in the scene partner. This approach cuts out playing a state of being.  However, audience members can think that characters are types and bring qualities of the character to mind rather than what the character does. What audience members experience is neither inherently correct or incorrect, but a version of the story to which the audience can respond with different adjectives.  The audience proscribes what the character is rather than the actor trying to do so, the actor acts on an objective. It takes extensive textual work to get to the point where the actor has the objectives he wants to use and is able to use them in continuity with the text. Actors often struggle with directors who give direction based upon a state of being (ex. “you’re being too _____”) rather than helping to shape the objectives.  Directors have to shape their direction according to the language of the actor.  Using performance as a public dramaturgy is not “the right textual analysis” but a shared process of collaboration to create the art.

Urkowitz:

Urkowitz began his talk by asking everyone to gather the handout he provided that they might fill it out during the presentation. Theater, like an etching, is a form of visual arts, and there are many different kinds of changes which take place between any two productions of the same thing. (Urkowitz directed our attention to two different preparatory etchings by Rebrant for one of his works).  Each of Richard III’s brothers present the blood of their enemies to their father, and Richard presents the head.  Each is praised for his work, and Richard addresses the dead head, asking it as if it is dead (much like a child’s joke when a child addresses an inanimate object).  Richard appears to take delight in examining his handiwork. This same joke appears in Mucedorus when a character addresses the body of a dead bear and ask if it is dead. Severed head jokes must have been circulating in the theater at the time. Many textual adaptations to revised texts of the Henry plays highlight Richard III in monstrous ways. For more information please contact Urkowitz (the OCS bear took his paper too). There is an anxiety of humor to the plays and movement through degrees of sympathy.

Cook:

John Stow is a prolific writer, and commenter upon Shakespearean England.  He titled himself “gentleman” and was able to comment on the court as well as the town.  Even though scholars often turn to certain areas of Stow’s work, the annals provide a better idea of the play-going culture.  Scholars often overlook the surveys and Stow’s works with regard to theater.  Stow is able to comment on theater in the noble’s houses and he also uses the theater as a locale for many of reports.  He is extremely helpful in establishing the area around the theater.  Audience members often observed whippings, beatings, hangings, beheading, etc in their culture.  Therefore, they had a different visceral response to the violence the actors presented on stage.  Things actors presented on stage were able to be directly compared with real life experiences (such as the queen’s garments).  The sets of associations are very different for the playgoers then and now.  Many of the details of what actors presented in plays can be fleshed out with concurrent similar instances of historical events from the time period in the annals. Stow gives us great accounts of the life he shared with Shakespeare.

Staging Session III

Beth Burns

Skyping Shakespeare: The Hidden Room’s International Collaboration on Rose Rage

Berns enters and has a screen in front of the discovery space broadcasting an image of Skype, she explains how she brought over British actors to the stage to audition, cast and rehearse a show. Berns advocates blocking via video conference although she does stipulate that they do not choreograph fights over Skype.

Why do people hesitate to work with people far away?

An actor referred to as Lawrence heads to the downstage back of the space.

An actor referred to as James then calls us on Skype and says “Hello everyone in America” the sound is adjusted.

They turn off the Skype camera and get back to Lawrence.

Three men come on from upstage, Lawrence from off stage reads his lines while one actor enacts his blocking in front of the audience.

After the actor silently embodying Lawrence trips over a cord we pause and then Lawrence asks for a few different stage pictures which Burns directs them in.

Now Lawrence is announced to have arrived in the states from the UK and Lawrence enacts the blocking he learned over Skype.

Berns remarks that Lawrence incorporated everything that Jude (the body double) suggested.

Lawrence goes onto explain how he found some of the choices Jude very interesting,and they influenced his interpretation of the scene.

Then Berns and James play a game where she had him stare into her eyes where he saw them on the screen and then give a similar gaze into the camera to show the audience the difference.

Lag is important to manage.  One has to mitigate the lag as much as possible through tech and practice

Actors naturally find a rhythm that works with lag.

Daves and James an(suit) d another man act a scene together across Skype until James phone goes of, but then they continue, when James wants to make eye contact he looks directly into the camera

James says fairwell and is turned off

Dr. Davies, who was an actor in the original project, tells a story about making noise in the kitchen while rehearsing over Skype his father came in and asked how many people were on his computer and he replied “About thirty-five”

Berns puts on a scene with half international actors and half from the states to show off the results of the Skype rehearsal project.

The blocking was well defined, all the actors seemed certain of where they were supposed to be when, no one was upstaged and they were able to interact very naturally and had clearly had sufficient rehearsal.

Robert Matney the tech designer meantioned that theater practitioners are usually luddites. We present a live, real alternative to other entertainment.

We need to retain what is precious about live theater but it is important to overcome luddite tendencies and if you use technology to your advantage you can fold and flatten the world. It is worth the extra effort to be able to rehearse with people on the other side of the world.

 

Kim Carrell

Variants in the Quarto and Folio texts of Richard the III

Textual veriants

Carrell explains that in the Quarto and Folio Richard the III have a lot of small differences, different names, and punctuation differences one speech 12 lines shorter but in Act one, Scene two there is one other massive difference…

Three actors take stage and start the Richard III and Lady Anne scene from the 1597 Quarto. Everything goes as expected and at the end when Anne leaves and Richard says he’ll take her but only or a short time, the audience barely reacts at all.  We are not sure he has won Anne as thoroughly as he thinks he has.

Now they perform the folio.

I Q1 Richard offers her a ring and delights at the way it looks on her finger, when they get to this point in the Folio she offers him the ring first and then he silently gave her a ring and had the same line admiring the way it circles her finger. The reaction of the audience was quite noticeable, and the actors related to each other much more sympathetically for the rest of the scene. The shock was much greater then, after she left and he callously said the same dismissive lines, because we had just seem what looked like a marriage ceremony or at the very least an engagement and he was already making it clear that his vows of love were lies.

Carrell said he came to the idea when he was in an unrehearsed cue script production as Richard III and performed this very scene, he thought he knew what to expect, but when she offered him the ring (which he wasn’t expecting) it really changed the scene.

Carrell asks audience what they think.

MFA student Kelly Elliot says that the moment when Anne offers ring makes Richard’s later speech a much bigger reaction.

Carrell advocates taking advantage of the many sexual jokes. Whitefriars, where Richard says he is going next was red-light district of London.

One little switch makes such a huge difference, so it is really worth it to check the differences between texts.

 

Julia Nelson

Modern audiences are used to proscenium staging, movies, privacy, technology, and less human contact. Early Modern audiences had no privacy, and theater was a communal space where space and light were shared.

So, why would Shakespeare and his contemporaries encourage a rowdy audience to participate in the show with audience asides and soliloquies where the actors directly address the audience and ask them questions?

In places like sports stadiums and Rocky Horror Picture Show modern audiences still get rowdy, shout, and in the latter case (but we hope not the former) throw things at the stage.

Rick Blunt performs Falstaff’s Honor speech. Julia asks him to try if first in the “first circle Stanislavski” style and ignore the audience.  Julia asks the audience to talk back and heckle Blunt.

The audience heckles Blunt while he desperately tries to do his scene and ignore the audience.  The audience got so loud it was difficult to hear Blunt whose character was having an internal discussion. Someone even threw a wadded up piece of paper at him.

The second time Julia asked Blunt to engage the audience as much as possible.

Blunt responded to every shout out and really connected with his audience, the speech with the question and answer format made much more sense the second time around. The audience never got as rowdy as they had the first time, by interacting with the, Blunt was able to keep them in check. Audience interaction was a form of crowd control.

If the play was a disaster on first performance and authors weren’t usually paid until second or third performance.

Nelson explains that the first was similar to modern staging where actors are encouraged to not acknowledge the audience. She then opened the floor to questions and comments.

The actor from the previous scene, known as Lawrence, had been doing Trinculo as audition speech then got the role and then at first performance an overly talkative audience member started interacting with him duringa sene:

L:  What have we here a manor fish?

A: Fish!

L: A Fish. Dead or alive?

A: Dead!

The interaction calmed the unruly audience member down and worked well with the scene.

Another audience member pointed out that we police the audience using the lights, when the audience can see each other they are much more likely to interact. What allows us to hoot and holler is that were sharing the same pool of light.

Blackfriars Conference 2013—Colloquy #8: Adaptations and Sources

 Good afternoon, all! Sarah Martin here to liveblog Colloquy #8: Adaptations and Sources. Our session took place in the S.P.A.C.E. building in downtown Staunton.

Chair: Edith Frampton, San Diego State University

Presenters: Amy Bolis from the University of Minnesota, Julia Griffin from Georgia Southern University, Amanda Hughes from the University of Alabama Huntsville, Tsui-fen Jiang from National Chengchi University, Mel Johnson from Mary Baldwin College, Louis Martin from Elizabethtown College, and Edward Plough from Delta State University.

 Our Chair, Edith Frampton from San Diego State University, began today’s session with a brief autobiography before asking each of this afternoon’s presenters to do the same.

 Frampton then gave a brief overview of her paper. Frampton argued that Shakespeare used moments in his plays to mock Robert Greene’s famous diatribe in which he describes Shakespeare as an “antic playwright” and a “shakes-scene”. Frampton pointed to moments such as the entrance of the simpleton William in As You Like It and references to the “green-eyed monster” in Shakespeare’s plays as evidence for her claim.

 Julia Griffin’s paper explores the relationship between Shakespeare and Plutarch and emphasizes the role of intermediary translators as sources for Shakespeare’s plays. Griffin used Antony and Cleopatra as her example of such influence. Griffin demonstrated that the influence of intermediary translators led to moments that lack clarity in Shakespeare’s plays, such as the suggestion that Cleopatra celebrated her birthday twice a year.

 Mel Johnson’s paper drew parallels between the “bedchamber scene” in Cymbeline during which Iachomo sneaks into Imogen’s bedroom as she sleeps and The Rape of Lucrece. Johnson argued that The Rape of Lucrece imbued Cymbeline with a sense of antiquity and authority and a sort of “creation myth of Britain” as James I, a Scottish king, became the English monarch.

 Edward Plough began his presentation with a brief performance. Musicians Scott Campbell and Jordan Zwick performed both Gower’s prologue from Pericles and a song from Plough’s musical adaptation of the play, Of Moonjays and Motorcycles. Plough’s paper explored the relationship between Gower in Pericles and a female nurse in Of Moonjays and Motorcycles. Plough explained his choice to create the Gower character as a nurse as Gower mentions that his, “physic” has worked before. Plough chose to pen a musical with Pericles as his source text because, he argued, Pericles is uniquely relevant to the millennial generation.

 Tsui-fen Jiang’s paper explored the role of Shakespeare in adaptation through the play, Goodnight Desdemona/Morning Juliet, a play that asks the audience to consider whether or not Othello and Romeo and Juliet were meant to be comedies. Jiang argued that we view female characters through the lens of patriarchal society and explored what happens when Ann-Marie McDonald, a female playwright with a female heroine, revisits the two iconic Shakespeare heroines.

 Louis Martin’s paper examined the different film versions of Hamlet and the role of the ghost in each one. He gave descriptions from several film adaptations including Kenneth Branagh’s and Franco Zefirelli’s Hamlets from the 1990s. He explored how the films both reflect and challenge Shakespeare’s play and in some cases, further the ambiguity that Shakespeare created in Hamlet.

 Amy Bolis discussed two adaptations of Othello: Harlem Duet and a hip-hop adaptation, Othello The Remix. Both adaptations portray Desdemona only as a voice and not a realized character that an actor embodies. Bolis argued that, while in both productions, Desdemona is only a “stage device”, Desdemona’s role in Harlem Duet is actually progressive as the absence of Desdemona highlights the “white privilege that Desdemona holds over” Othello and the problems that entails.

 Amanda Hughes’ paper explored the role of the Gothic in Shakespeare’s plays from Richard III to Hamlet and its decline in the Romances. Hughes argued that Shakespeare’s plays were influences on 19th Century Gothic writers as well as being Gothic texts themselves. Hughes argued that Richard III epitomizes the Gothic in Shakespeare’s plays through his use of binaries “dreadful marches, delightful measures”. Richard subverts the norm and creates an “atmosphere of terror” that effectively makes the play Gothic.

Staging Session II: Auditory Worlds Onstage: Hearing, Overhearing, Eavesdropping, and Stage Whispers – Blackfriars Conference 2013

Good afternoon from Clare at the Blackfriars! I will be blogging on the second staging session of the 2013 Blackfriars Conference.

Staging Session II: Auditory Worlds Onstage: Hearing, Overhearing, Eavesdropping, and Stage Whispers

With little to no practice, the OCS residence cast and their facilitators will work through complicated staging situations. Please see: Staging Session II Handout

Moderator: Sara Vazquez, OCS stage manager

1. Much Ado Masked dance: Conducted by Walter Cannon and Nova Myhill (Much Ado About Nothing 2.1)

2. Eavesdropping in Measure for Measure: Gayle Gaskill (Measure for Measure, 3.1)

3. Public vs Private speech in Hamlet: Laury Magnus (Hamlet, 3.2)

1) Myhill and Cannon will look precisely at the moments of hearing and non-hearing, and how the scene changes when characters over-hear, and when they fail to over-hear each other.  They also want to gives special attention  to the way that masks which usually give individuals power over each other, or render each other powerless. The actors will first play the scene all masked and then time with only the men in masks.

The first time the actors played the scene, they all danced and only the head couple spoke to each other.  The other actors were not distracting themselves from hearing, but also did not appear to react much to the head couple. They were all masked.

The second time, the women wore no masks and again only by the two interlocutors heard the conversations.  Each couple broke off from the dance to their individual conversations after they spoke to each other in the dance for their own private conversations. The women also played the scene as having more agency over the men who are unable to answer for themselves when the women confronted them about themselves while the women enjoy displaying their wit.

2) Differing editions of Measure for Measure have the duke and the provost exit in a scene 3.1., or stay on stage and eaves drop during the conversation in which Isabella confesses to her brother that she must sleep with Angelo to save her brother’s life. Does the duke upstage the other actors if he is seen overhearing the actors?

The first time, the duke and the provost left and then the duke reappeared listening from the balcony. Claudio’s initial support of Isabella’s chastity gave the duke in comfort, but at Claudio’s first request for Isabella to save him by sin, the duke rushed out of the balcony and reappeared later to stop the two from their argument.

The second time, the duke and the provost remained on the apron of the stage, downstage left, and listened to the conversation,  The duke even inserted a few non-verbal auditory reactions. He then chooses a specific instance to insert himself. His motivation for reappearing appeared to change.

3)Just before the play within the play, Hamlet is playing the harlequin which keeps him from culpability while simultaneously insulting the characters (possibly without their realizing they are being insulted). The actors have their hearing visible by their onstage reactions, and the actors are free to respond as they will to the speech. This scene has an elaborate architecture of seeing and hearing.

The first time, the scene began with Hamlet putting on a harlequin disguise for the sake of the court. Before the play, the characters who were not interlocutors played mostly sock and disgust regarding Hamlet’s words, but little reaction to the dumb show, and were not watching each other watch the play, with the exception of Hamlet on a diagonal downstage of them and able to see them.

The second time, Hamlet did not put on a disguise and appeared in earnest, acting more like the typical Romeo character, and when he was speaking with one individual, the others broke off to have their own private conversations which allowed Hamlet to comment on people without the subjects of the comments aware he was speaking of them. This staging also allowed the actors to watch each other watch the play and each others’ reactions to the play. During the break in the play, when the characters comment on the play, Hamlet got up and pulled characters to the side to have conversations with them about the play and direct specific ideas toward them. This allowed him to be much more manipulative and direct in his comments, but lead to some discontinuity when other characters commented on the individual conversations.

The audience was divided on the positioning of the duke. Many felt that his position on the apron of the stage found it difficult to see him and divided their attention.  There was also a lot of debate on whether or not the Duke, or Isabella and Claudio should be the focus of the scene.   Most of the staging today used dumb show conversation to indicate not listening.  They also talked about the difficulty of having to listen for cues while also pretending not to listen.  The actors posed the example of Malviolio reading the letter in 12th Night.  In this scene the actor must be extremely aware of where the other characters are hiding, and how they are reacting to his speech so that he does not look at them, while simultaneously pretending to be oblivious. The actors stated that the presence of the provost was difficult.  They also stated that it is particularly difficult to find ways of NOT doing something (such as not listening).  They said that in Hamlet it can be difficult for the King and Queen to not see the play and then be startled, but by having Hamlet pull people to the side created more for them to respond to.  In Much Ado, the actor playing Claudio (Chris Jonston)  found that the private conversations gave him more to use as an actor when he watched Pedro and Beatrice flirting.  The actor playing Benedick (Ben Curns) found that it was frustrating to play a stupid Benedick.  This comment opened the question of whether or not the women are masked.  Textual evidence suggests that women could be masked or not without working against the text. One of the actors raised the question of what constitutes the harlequin character, how it should be played, and how the scholars present would have liked to see the responses and actions of the characters on stage for the Hamlet scene. They also asked if there is something that the other players should be doing.  Another question was the way to play NOT hearing, in any way other than doing something else, or being distracted.  The scholars were hoping to achieve a “sneak attack” by Hamlet on Claudius. Some audience members felt the private staging of the Hamlet scene was much more powerful than the public version of the staging.  Audience members also requested what a good balance could be between the public and private versions of the scene.  The scholars and actors found it difficult to map who hears what lines. The private version placed an interesting highlight on the lines about the chameleon.  Hamlet (Dylan Paul) found that the public version trapped him in a type, whereas in the private version he felt able to play tactics and work individually on specific people. Everything needs to be based on deciding what story the production wants to tell and what is the best way to tell the story they have.